Update: Stay tuned for updates from the 85th Session, Which Convenes January 10, 2017
Check out the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes’ State Collaborative website which offers hyper-local analysis of weather risks and building codes for Texas communities to identify opportunities to enhance disaster resilience.
Weather related disasters are the biggest cost driver in the homeowners insurance marketplace, and Texas has the most diverse weather risk in the country, with exposure to nine different types of natural disasters.
In fact, Texas ranked third nationally of states that have experienced the most property losses from disasters from 2002-1011, according to a study by Kiplinger.com. During that time span, Texans suffered an estimated $24.9 billion in insured property loss from 53 severe weather incidents, largely common thunderstorms and tornadoes.
While Texans cannot control the weather, implementing and enforcing sound building codes for new construction or when rebuilding can help reduce the resulting damage caused by that weather – and drive down the cost of insurance claims, which is far and away the main factor in the cost of insurance.
What is the purpose of a building code?
Building codes are designed to save lives and minimize property damage from hurricanes and other weather hazards by setting design, construction and maintenance standards for structures.
Though Texas has adopted a statewide building code, the law allows municipalities to adopt weaker standards than are set out in the code.
Texas ranks low in a nationwide study of residential building codes
Texas trails most coastal states when it comes to instituting and enforcing building codes, according to a 2012 analysis by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). Texas scored a dismal 18 points (out of 100) in the survey, lower than all but two of the 18 states along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast.
This low score is the result of the widespread lowering of standards in various areas allowed by current law, a lack of inspection and enforcement, and a lack of registration and licensing rules for various building trades.
Texas must require broad adoption and better enforcement of nationally recognized building codes
Good building codes, properly enforced, will save property and lives. They also will help insurers evaluate and manage the risk of property damage in our catastrophe-prone state. Damage to homes built to a strong code is less likely or less severe, leading to fewer losses and lower cost insurance claims.
Enforcing strong building codes not only is an important to public safety, it is a logical next step toward a healthier insurance marketplace.